Barbara Waldern is a Vancouverite teaching English in a small town in South Korea. She joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team last year, and she loves exeriencing Vancouver's multicultural community activities. She moved to Korea in July. Now she is an ethnic minority in a foreign country. She sends this report:
season of change full of festivity and calamity, new friends and more learning, new colours and new places.
job was getting increasingly unpleasant. Managed to shake it off at
last. Dicey because a former boss can make trouble in a small town.
Awaiting visa renewal, which will require a short trip to Japan so as
to re-enter the country compliments my new boss. Native speakers of
English in high demand and schools plentiful so therefore I've had some
The humidity that extended through September caused moulds to grow. The
house is getting renovated. Everyone else had left. (Many teachers
turned tail and ran home!)
apartment near a busy and popular shopping district off a main road.
(See attached photo of view from my pad.) It feels like a motel. But
breaking it in. I get to enjoy the fresh air of a village just a short
bus ride away outside Masan called Samgyae. People very down to earth
teach at 2 small schools that belong to a chain operation. This time
'round, I'll be the only foreign teacher on staff. I'm replacing a
Korean teacher who speaks English fluently; she's helping me get
acquainted this week. Afternoon schedule: no more split shift. – no more
kindergarten. I still get to enjoy the younger kids because the
classes are comprised of elementary and “middle school” students.
Mostly beginners of English language learning. A little more pay. I
have more control over my work. Not too much prep.Top boss a wonderful
woman. I must get to know the male directors of the local schools where
I'll be teaching.
hosting a Q&A to Korean government speakers about working and
living in Korea. I plan to go. It is in Busan later this month.
continuing to learn Korean and the new employment will probably force
me to practice it more. Actually, it's simpler than English. No
conjugations! Just a different verb ending for each tense to attach to
the root. No articles! And nobody cares about pluralization when
speaking! And you get to drop the pronouns a lot of the time. So
grammar a snap. Now, pronunciation's a different matter. In English,
for example, we have soft and hard consonants. Did you know that
there's a third kind of pronunciation of consonnnts in Korean? English
speakers can't even hear it! Of course, there's a lot of vocab to
are many festivals happening. I've been to the parsimmons festival in
Jinyeong village, the chrysanthemum fest in Masan (see photo of me
attached here), and a cultural festival in Busan. It is still fairly
warm during the day (20s) while it cools down over night (18ish). Some
folks here say it is cooler than usual for early November. Light
jackets or sweaters only. Weather has become quite dry. Ironic that I'm
actually thinking of getting a humidifier consider the extreme humidity
of the summer.
on a new one-year contract. Fingers crossed, the new visa will go
smoothly and I'll adapt with little difficulty to the new school.
Completion would forecast a return to Canada in November, 2008. In the
meantime, I will be considering prospects in the public schools around
here. The recruitment period begins in December and new teachers are
hired for March. However, schools in Masan are somewhat resistant to
the presence of foreign teachers in their classes. Sometimes, a foreign
teacher only teaches the Korean teachers of English! This attitude
would explain some of the kinds of difficulties in renewing teachers'
visas through the Masan immigration office.